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How to cook bacon

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By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen

Bacon, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. What we don’t love as much? Standing over a hot skillet and spattering our PJs with bacon grease. Enter oven-cooked bacon, a hands-off technique that is infinitely easier than cooking it in a skillet and won’t make your whole kitchen smell like bacon for days. Moreover, here in the Food Network Kitchen, many food stylists rely on the oven to prepare bacon because it cooks quite evenly (there aren’t any hot spots to worry about).

To get started, all you need is a pack of your favorite type of bacon, a baking sheet, a metal cooling rack that fits inside the baking sheet (optional) and foil.

First, line the baking sheet with foil.

You can arrrange the bacon in a single layer on top of the foil — the slices should be touching but not overlapping. Or, if you’d like, you can fit the baking sheet with an oven-safe cooling rack and arrange the bacon on top of that to allow extra grease to drain away while the bacon cooks — not a huge deal either way. Feel free to skip the rack so there’s one less dish to clean.

Now is a great time to impress your family or brunch guests by taking your bacon to the next level. Consider sprinkling on a seasoning like cracked black pepper, brown sugar or chipotle chili powder.

Place the bacon in the middle rack of a cold oven.

Why? Think about the way you cook bacon in a skillet: You start it in a cold skillet too. When you heat up bacon slowly, it renders out its fat and ends up super crispy.

Once you place the bacon in the oven, heat it to 400 degrees F and bake the bacon to your desired crispness. It should be done in 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use tongs to carefully transfer the bacon to paper towels.

Clean up (easily) — and eat!

If you want to save the bacon grease, carefully pour it into a heat-safe container — try repurposing an old metal coffee container. If you don’t feel like saving the fat, set aside the hot grease-filled baking sheet and allow it to cool down. The grease will solidify onto the foil and you can lift it up and discard for very easy cleanup.

All that’s left for you to do is start using up those gorgeous cracking strips. May we suggest one of the following?

FNK_Bacon-Egg-and-Cheese-Toast-Bowls_Renee Comet

Miniature bread bowls for breakfast? Bake them up in a muffin tin and you’ll want to devour five in one sitting.

FNK_Breakfast-Nachos_HRenee Comet

They come together in just 30 minutes, but you can shave off even more time by whipping up bacon in the oven.

They taste like breakfast at a 5-star hotel, but in reality they take 15 minutes and are easy to master. Read on for all the tips and tricks, like having your bacon pre-crumbled and ready to add at a moment’s notice.

Armando Rafael

Crumble that bacon into an easy homemade crust alongside cilantro, chili powder and creamy egg filling.

FN1211141_31_APPLE_BACON_01.tifLevi Brown

Cinnamon raisin bread gets smeared with a butter-Greek yogurt mixture, then topped with apples, bacon and maple syrup. Sorry, avocado toast, we’ve got a new favorite.

If you’re baking your bacon instead of cooking it in the skillet, simply reserve a few tablespoons of the drippings from the sheet tray to use later in the recipe.

LEVI_BROWN_FN1121131_POTATOES 04_HIRES.tifLevi Brown

You could make fried eggs, breakfast potatoes and bacon, or you could make one glorious dish that combines all the best parts of breakfast.

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